In the past few years of lead-up, Metal Gear Solid V Ground Zeroes has simultaneously been one of the weirdest and most interesting titles on the docket. Originally revealed as a completely separate game from Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain, Ground Zeroes was finally discovered to simply be a prologue to Metal Gear Solid V. Between the replacement of the primary voice actor with Kiefer Sutherland to the price and relative length of Ground Zeroes, there has been a significant amount of consternation online about the title but now it is finally here.
If I were given only three words to succinctly describe Ground Zeroes, they would be "Short, but interesting". All of the internet scuttlebutt about the length of Ground Zeroes were absolutely dead on, the game is extremely short. It took me only a little bit over an hour to beat the primary story mission, and not too much longer to complete the side missions.
Nevertheless, I still found what Ground Zeroes had on offer in the gameplay department to be extremely intriguing. The open world that Ground Zeroes introduces to the player is a very interesting twist on the traditional Metal Gear formula, perhaps the first large change in that formula in many years. Other than the ability to roam around the prison at whim and take on secondary tasks in addition to your primary goal of a search and rescue, this is still very much a Metal Gear game with the same third person stealth shooting mechanics that most of us are already intimately familiar with.
The most important part of Metal Gear games has always been their alternatively absurd and extremely serious story, though. Theres not a whole lot of it on display here, though fans of the PSP game Peace Walker will find a lot to love. The primary mission, and the only one that you can play the first time you boot up the game, is a direct sequel to Peace Walker and a direct Prequel to The Phantom Pain. After completing that initial mission, you are given a number of other missions, of which there is one exclusive to either Xbox or PlayStation platforms. Those side missions contain little to no story, and none of it is pertinent to Phantom Pain in any way.
As far as the delivery of said story is concerned, there has been a lot of concern over the change in voice actors for Big Boss/Naked Snake. To be sure, the change is a bit startling at first, not too dissimilar to the change in voice actors with the release of the latest Splinter Cell games. Kiefer Sutherland does not sound at all like David Hayter, but the performance is perfectly serviceable, and as the game went on I found myself becoming more and more comfortable with his portrayal. I dont necessarily understand why a replacement actor was necessary, but it did not end up bothering me all that much.
Another concern for some players will be the fact that this is a next-gen game ported back to the 360, and to put it simply, this version is perfectly fine. I noticed no serious frame rate or graphical issues, and the environments/characters still look fantastic.
At the end of the day though, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes comes down to a serious value proposition. With just a few hours of content in total, the game is extremely short and not all that varied, and the asking price is $30. Whether its worth it to you or not is personal.